Wilson says GOP's health bill serves public

AIKEN --- Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson touted his party's alternative health care plan at a town hall meeting Saturday.

"I just think it's wrong what we have here," he said as he picked up a stack of papers he said was the Democrats' proposed H.R. 3200 bill.

The Republicans' alternative plan, Empowering Patients First Act, also known as H.R. 3400, is a better choice, he said to about 150 people at Oakwood-Windsor Elementary School in Aiken.

"Insurance companies don't want this but, hey, we need to be representing the public," he said.

The plan focuses on accessibility, affordability, choice, innovation, quality and portability, he said. The proposals include creating health courts in each state and "adding affirmative defense through best practices set by physicians"; prohibiting the use of funds for abortions; and providing individuals and families with tax credits and deductions to purchase health insurance of their choice.

He also answered questions about jobs, the energy bill, and the Copenhagen treaty, a plan to limit carbon emissions that would replace the Kyoto Protocol, which the United States never signed. Most of the questions, however, were about health care.

Mike and Sandra Holt of Aiken were among those in attendance.

"We've been watching the news and have been very concerned about the way things have been going in Washington," Mr. Holt said. "It's good to know there's a politician who feels the same way we do and is trying to do something about it."

Debbie Osmundsen of Aiken said that insurance reform is what Congress should be addressing.

"What we need is insurance reform. We shouldn't be forced to provide health insurance for everyone," she said. "Health insurance should be a privilege, not a right."

Pete Widener of Montmorenci said that it's a citizen's duty to attend town hall meetings.

"I feel like every American should contribute to these meetings," he said. "Sometimes, we are too busy to follow what's happening every day, but these meetings give you a lot of good information and it gets you involved. There should be a movement to get involved."

Mr. Wilson's 2nd Congressional District includes parts of Aiken County.

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.